I’m not sure how I got roped into believing the ‘Arsenal For The League’ meme. Maybe I took Rob Smyth a bit too seriously on those Guardian podcasts. Their fixture list in April and May was favourable though. And I had seen the flukey wins over Hull and West Ham – two teams bound for the Championship. Arsenal, for all of their stylish pretensions, seemed more like a side built to eek out ugly one-nil wins from here until the last of the season.
Maybe I just wanted to believe.
So maybe Wenger saw the writing on the wall after Saturday’s draw at Birmingham. But after last night’s bizarre game, I am still perplexed why he risked the entire league campaign to try to beat Barcelona, a pretty impossible task for Arsenal at full-strength. Pride? Hubris? You get the feeling he would have thrown Van Persie on last night if he could have. Now Gallas is out for the season and Fabregas might have played his last game for Arsenal.
I’d be happier to be corrected by future events, but Arsenal seem bound for their annual spring hiding at the Nou Camp next Tuesday, prompting the usual furious remonstrations from pundits and solipsistic soul-searching from supporters. Either way, the league seems like a two-horse race again.
And as far as embarassing Arsenal hidings go, I still think this will take some beating.